“Take business park land out of Local Plan say campaigners”

“Campaigners have called for land earmarked for a multi-million pound Sidford business park to be taken out of the Local Plan.

t follows East Devon District Council’s decision to throw out an application to build 8,445sqm of employment floor space on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The proposed development for the Two Bridges site received 255 comments of objection and 111 in support. A campaign group also submitted a petition to the council with 1,400 signatures opposing the plans.

Now campaigners are calling on council bosses to look at removing the area, earmarked for development, out the Local Plan, claiming it should have never been there in their first place.

The Herald understands the application could once again go to appeal following a response from East Devon District Council saying it would not be appropriate to respond to the campaigners’ comments.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “As we understand that this matter is now going to appeal, it would not be appropriate to make any comments about the status of the Local Plan.

“The campaigners can make their points direct to the Planning Inspector in support of the council’s decision to refuse.”

Councillor Marianne Rixson has spoken out on the reasons why the town should join her rallying call to pressure the authority to look at taking the site out of the Local Plan at the earliest opportunity.

The Local Plan

“When a Government inspector was examining the suitability of the site in 2014, county Highways failed to point out that the roads would not be able to cope with the traffic an industrial estate would bring. Highways only admitted their error in September 2016.

“After the draft Local Plan had been sent to the Inspector for final approval in 2015, district councillors realised they’d made a mistake and voted almost unanimously to try to remove it from the plan but no effort was made to explain to the Inspector the reasons why the site was unsuitable – consequently he had no option but to rule that the site should remain, subject to planning.”

Flooding issues:

“It is on a floodplain and flooding will inevitably get worse with climate change.

“The Two Bridges site is in zones 3A and two flood risk zones – yet another reason why this site is unsuitable.”

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB):

“England has 34 AONB all of which are supposed to have the highest rate of protection in law and Government policy.

“We should only build on AONB if there is an overwhelming need for a development. The owners’ plans for a business park were market driven so there isn’t any hard proof. Surely we need to know for sure that there is an overwhelming need for employment space in the Sid Valley before we destroy this AONB?

“I would advocate for the district and town councils to work together to look seriously at how we can attract good quality, well paid jobs into the valley and how we can most effectively locate them without encroaching into the AONB and where there is good transport infrastructure.

“We need to attract good quality, well paid jobs into the area. Surely we can do this without encroaching into the AONB and where there are better road links? Regrettably by mid November Sidmouth will have lost three banks and building societies. Far better to turn these buildings into offices, which would help to keep our town vibrant, rather than build new offices on the outskirts.


“Traffic cannot cope on this narrow road as it is due to the bottlenecks and number of HGVs already using the A375 – it will not be able to cope with more.

“Highways now agree this is not suitable for HGVs. “For two lorries to pass you need 6.5 metres. The main access for business park would be School Street which has a pinch point of 4.77 metres. There are several points through Sidbury too where the road is less than 5.5m, including Sidbury Mill and Cotford Bridge.

“Surely there should be a weight restriction on this road?

“According to an FOI submitted by the Say No Sidford Business Park campaigners some 30,000 cars travelled along the road in one off-peak week in April.

“I’d like to call for a weigh restriction on these struggling roads.

Endangered Bats and Japanese knotweed:

“The Two Bridges site is an important wildlife site for species that are protected such as horseshoe bats, otters and dormice.

“Knotweed exterminators have been seen on the site – it takes several years to get rid of.

Light Pollution

“The Norman Lockyer Observatory is both historical and the home to an active amateur astronomical society.

It also has plans to build a £70,000 extension so more experiments can take place than ever before.

“The light from any business park there will have an impact on the night sky, which currently has semi rural dark skies status at Sidford.”


“These 14 East Devon villages and towns are going to expand”

“A total of 14 East Devon towns and villages have been earmarked for expansion, and residents have got a final chance to have their say on it.

Following consultation event in 2016, the public is invited to give even more feedback on the version of the East Devon Villages Plan that the district authority is going to submit.

The consultation includes details of the feedback received in response to the 2016 consultation and how the council amended the document after listening to those views. ..”

Any comments received in response to the latest consultation will be forwarded to the Inspector appointed to examine the plan – this is expected to happen during Autumn 2017.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, Chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee, said: “We would like to hear from as many residents as possible, as their views are an important part of the process in finalising the Villages Plan, which is destined to help determine planning applications across the district.”

Residents affected have until 12pm on

Wednesday May 10

to comment on the plan and the supporting documents and all comments will be sent to the Inspector appointed to examine the plan.

The Proposed Submission Villages Plan is available to view on the East Devon Council website:


as well as at local libraries and in the council offices in Sidmouth.

Villages/towns affected are:

Clyst St Mary
East Budleigh
Newton Poppleford
West Hill

Maps are helpfully provided in the Express and Echo article. In addition, maps showing the extent of land authorised for business use at Greendale and Hill Barton business parks have been included in the Villages Plan.


Cornwall Local Plan Inquiry starts in chaos

Police and security guards were in evidence on the first day of the Cornwall Local Plan inquiry yesterday with vocal protesters inside and outside the meeting room giving vent to their anger.

PA systems were turned odd when the chairman of “Kernow Matters to Us” made a very long public speech ( where he said the Inspector was running the inquiry like it was in old East Germany. The only non-developer allowed at the table at the meeting when it finally kicked off had this to say about the experience”


A mail from Armorel Carlyon today.

Dear All, I have been relegated to the bottom of the table. On the right hand side, 14 developers, and 7 more on my left. I did have Mr David Pollard sitting next to me, and he was allowed to speak on two occasions. I have NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO SPEAK ALL DAY!! I felt the Inspector was extremely disparaging towards me in front of all these people – I feel totally humilated – probably due to my outspoken contributions yesterday.

The housing figures for Truro were 3900 and the developers were trying to increase this figure. The Inspector said that I must find something in my responses to justify my speaking. I protested that I was the only person around the table that had any knowledge of Truro, but I was roundly refused.

I am the ONLY obvious Cornish person around the table. They are sitting here just carving up Cornwall in front of my eyes. I have just found a response I made in March 2013 on Policy 3 which stated that the allocations for Truro had been allocated and agreed to in the Neighbourhood Plan. I have written a note to the Inspector referring to my original response. I am feeling very sad and very angry.”

With best wishes
Armorel C.

Whose fault is it the Local Plan took so long? Sidmouth says EDDC’s Mark Williams!!!

Not the false start made by the first Local Development Framework group, which spent 2-plus years visiting sites of favoured developers.

Not the East Devon Business Forum and its Chairman disgraced ex-councillor Graham Brown which attempted to get an iron grip on it.

Not the officers and councillors who employed consultant after consultant until they found one they agreed with.

Not the same officers and councillors who had their drafts thrown out twice by the Planning Inspector.


Sidmouth delayed the Local Plan! and Mark William’s loses it!

At a heated meeting of EDDC councillors tonight to approve the Local Plan, CEO Mark Williams lost control of himself in a big way.

In response to a fairly conciliatory speech from resident Richard Eley, on behalf of Save our Sidmouth, a furious Williams lambasted Sidmouth for delaying the Local Plan and increasing the number of houses in it!

“But for Sidmouth we would have had a local plan three years ago,” he ranted, adding that “the end result of all your objections is that we’ve ended up in the local plan with more houses than originally proposed.” (Gasps of astonishment from the public and cries of “rubbish” and “nonsense”.)

A few minutes later he rounded on Richard Eley again accusing him of “churlishly” calling the Inspector “idiotic”. Eley sprang to his feet and angrily denied he had used that word about the inspector, and demanded an apology – supported by more cries of “scandal” and “apologise” from the public.

He insisted on reading the offending part of his speech again which proved his point that the i-word was never used. In fact, he described the decision to include land at Sidford for a business park as “stupid”.

After more moments of mayhem and shouting from the public, a reluctant apology was extracted from the CEO.

Many observers were left wondering if Mr Williams might not need a long rest –as in retirement on a generous pension………

BREAKING NEWS: Diviani says Local Plan sound – BUT Inspector rewrites it with nearly 200 major changes!

Here is Diviani’s puff job:


The “main modifications” are here:

Click to access appendix-1-main-modifications-2.pdf

A quick glance suggests that the I spector did more work on the plan in a few months than EDDC did in nearly a decade. There are MANY changes that have implications for just about every town and village in the district.

More to follow …

BUT one major point:

Councillor Stuart Hughes was talking out of his … when he said, in a re ent Sidmouth Herald, thanks to him and ex-Councillor Troman the employment land site in Sidford had been deleted – IT HAS NOT BEEN DELETED.

An enforcable Local Plan “soon”: most definitely not there yet

Diviani’s press release says:

“… I can, however, say that the report concludes that both the Local Plan and CIL charging schedule are sound and can move to adoption subject to main modifications. …”

So, what are “main modifications”?

Here is an explanation:

“What if modifications are required to make a submitted Local Plan sound?”

The Inspector can recommend ‘main modifications’ (changes that materially affect the policies) to make a submitted Local Plan sound and legally compliant only if asked to do so by the local planning authority under section 20(7C) of the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act as amended). The council can also put forward ’additional modifications’ of its own to deal with more minor matters.

Where the changes recommended by the Inspector would be so extensive as to require a virtual re-writing of the Local Plan, the Inspector is likely to suggest that the local planning authority withdraws the plan. Exceptionally, under section 21 (9) (a) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the Secretary of State has the power to direct a local planning authority to withdraw its submitted plan.

Inspectors will require the local planning authority to consult upon all proposed main modifications. Depending on the scope of the modifications, further Sustainability Appraisal work may also be required. The Inspector’s report on the plan will only be issued once the local planning authority has consulted on the main modifications and the Inspector has had the opportunity to consider the representations on these.

Whether to advertise any ‘additional modifications’ is at the discretion of the local planning authority, but they may wish to do so at the same time as consulting on the main modifications..”


So, it seems these main modifications will have to be put to consultation – again and possibly Sustainability Appraisals will need to be prepared. And then the Inspector has to consider responses – again.

Will we see an adopted Local Plan “soon” as Diviani intimates? Well, it all depends on your definition of “soon”!

And, in the meantime, our developers will continue to run amok.

Local Plan declared sound-ish, sort of … 17,100 homes to be shoe-horned in to the district

Well, it’s sort-of sound except that it isn’t yet being published because EDDC has to “fact check” it and/or respond to it ….. or simply agree with it.  It appears that Mr Thickett, aware of EDDC’s foot-dragging in this area has said that he wants their response within two weeks.  The press release also mentions “main modifications.


So, don’t hold your breath – many a slip twixt cup and lip and every delay means that developers can whap in more pre-agreement planning applications …..

And EDDC will, of course, have to find time to accept it in their very busy meetings schedule, which might also take some time.


Local Plan progress – is telepathy involved?

According to Great Leader Diviani’s Christmas message, he expects the latest version of the draft Local Plan to be adopted early next year.

But how does he know this?

According to the EDDC web page where ALL correspondence with Mr Thickett is supposed to be published:


EDDC has not written to Mr Thickett since February 2015 and Mr Thickett has not replied since March 2015.

Special telepathy perhaps to which the public is not allowed access?

Q. When is a Plan not a Plan? A. When it’s an EDDC fudge?

At the July Public Examination Inspector Thickett instructed EDDC to reach agreement with Natural England over outstanding issues regarding compliance with the European Habitat Directive. These are legally binding on EDDC and, therefore, potential show stoppers. (It is claimed the phrasing he used was “lock yourselves in a darkened room until you reach agreement” – but who would voluntarily do that with an EDDC planner?).

Not surprising then to find the amendments proposed to the Draft Plan by EDDC in August didn’t mention that agreement had been reached, only that there had been a “dialogue”. EDDC’s proposed solution is to duck the issue by removing any dependency between the Exmouth Master Plan and the Local Plan i.e. Exmouth regeneration is irrelevant to achieving the staggering economic growth assumed in the Local Plan.

So the Watch watchers were interested to read the following article by Becca Glidden in last Week’s Journal under the title “Setback for major regeneration sites”. Amongst all the nuanced phrasing we are left wondering when is a plan not a plan? Maybe our readers can enlighten us?

Here is the text of the article:

Major sites earmarked for regeneration have been struck out of a major new planning document – after objections from Natural England.

The sites include the seafront Splash Zone/ Queen’s Drive, the Imperial Road car park, the rugby ground, bus station, estuary car park, London Inn car park and town centre post office.

They have been removed from the proposed East Devon Local Plan, which is currently undergoing public consultation.
The regeneration works have been deleted from the proposed planning document because Natural England said the proposals were not `legally sound’.

Natural England, a group championing the preservation of the natural environment for future generations, said East Devon District Council (EDDC) had failed to carry out a full conservation assessment of the Exmouth sites earmarked for regeneration. [Comment from Owl: Natural England is the Government’s statutory advisory body on this – i.e. top dog].

In a letter to EDDC, Natural England said: “Because we advise that we are unable to agree that the Habitat Regulations Assessment is complete, we consider that the Local Plan is not legally sound, since the statutory requirements of the assessment process have not been followed.

This remains the case.”

The regeneration sites are contained in a document called the Exmouth Masterplan, a planning paper which forms part of the proposed East Devon Local Plan.

An EDDC spokesperson told the Journal: “The Exmouth Masterplan is one of a suite of planning documents that support the [proposed] Local Plan, however, the Exmouth Masterplan needs updating.

“The issue which Natural England has concerns about, is whether all of the Exmouth Masterplan can be acceptably delivered, bearing in mind the possibility of adverse impacts on the Exe Estuary wildlife site.

“Because of the concerns expressed by Natural England, the council has withdrawn the direct links/references between the Exmouth Masterplan and the Local Plan to enable the Local Plan to move forward.

“The sites in Exmouth can still come forward, but to show that they are acceptable, each site and the scheme on that site will need to be subject to its own detailed assessment under the habitat regulations – Natural England will take a keen interest in these assessments.”

The district council said the seafront Splash/ Queen’s Drive, the Imperial Road car park, the rugby ground, bus station, estuary car park, London Inn car park and town centre post office would be included in a refreshed Masterplan, a council document which sets out the future for Exmouth.

The council said its regeneration plans for Exmouth were ongoing and would be completed.

The spokesperson said plans would be submitted for the Splash/Queens Drive development before the end of the year.
“Projects in the Masterplan remain in place for delivery. The delivery of Masterplan projects will be aligned with the new Local Plan policies, as well as wider rules and regulations. In the mean-time, the existing Masterplan remains in force.

“The Queen’s Drive proposals are proceeding and a planning application for the enabling works – road and car park – has recently been submitted.

“An application for the second phase will be forthcoming before the end of the year.”

Our summary: Now you see it, now you don’t!

That could be EDDC’s new motto, perhaps!

Yet another Local Plan consultation

Will this nightmare never end?

From EDDC:

“The East Devon Local Plan Inspector has asked that we consult on additional changes to the local plan. The consultation will run from Friday 16 October 2015 to 12.00 Noon on Monday 30 November 2015.

These changes and further information about the consultation can be viewed on the Council web site at:

We will send copies of the paperwork to public libraries in East Devon and to Lyme Regis Library and Exeter Central Library and paper copies can be inspected at the council offices here in Sidmouth.

To save paper we have provided the web link, however, if you are unable to view or download documents via our web site please contact us directly and we can supply a paper copy of the proposed changes and a form for making comments.

Please ensure that we receive any response by 12.00 noon on Monday 30 November 2015 at the latest.”